mardi 21 avril 2009

How cool can a magazine get ?

The latest issue of Wired (May 2009) is funny and ironic, original and surprising, arcane and far-fetched, incomprehensible and mind-boggling, beautiful and very very clever.

In a word, übercool...

Want to know what's an ambigram ?
How many times and when did the world end ?
How to play magic tricks ?
Where are the instructions for rebuilding the human civilization ?
It's all there and much more...

Here are samples from the, let's say most accessible articles :

By Brian Greene

Were some superadvanced alien civilization to swoop down to Earth with the definitive explanation of everything in the cosmos, there'd be excitement at first—it would be thrilling to have answers to questions we've tussled with through the ages. But in short order, scientists worldwide would be utterly depressed. With no remaining mysteries, the scientific journey would halt.

But science is the journey. Science is about immersing ourselves in piercing uncertainty while struggling with the deepest of mysteries. It is the ultimate adventure. Against staggering odds, a species that has walked upright for only a few million years is trying to unravel puzzles that are billions of years in the making. How did the universe begin? How was life initiated? How did consciousness emerge? Einstein captured it best when he wrote, "the years of anxious searching in the dark for a truth that one feels but cannot express." That's what science is about.

Recently, Jonathan Blow issued a plea to his audience: Don't use a walkthrough to play my videogame.
A walkthrough is a set of step-by-step instructions that fans write to help one another make their way through a complex game. It's a collaborative phenomenon: One player posts a walkthrough online, then others instantly begin adding details, cataloging every nuance of a game. Last August, after Blow released Braid—a clever, moody puzzler for the Xbox—players assembled a complete walkthrough within days.

So how do you design a puzzle for the hive mind? Don't fight the groupthink, use it.
Take alternate reality games. Two years ago, a group called the Society of the Ancients was handing out flyers at the park near my home. I didn't discover until weeks later that the handbill held an early clue in an ARG promoting the videogame Halo 3. Later hints included ringtones that people needed to play into computer mics, an altered version of a Lord Byron poem, and coded messages left at scores of retail stores nationwide. Yikes!

Because ARG clues are distributed so widely across the globe, it is impossible for any one person to solve the mystery alone. The joy of playing an ARG isn't in doing it yourself. It's in becoming a neuron in a much bigger intelligence: Finding a piece of evidence, contributing it to the wiki that players inevitably create, and brainstorming with others to figure out what everything means. ARGs could not have existed before the Internet.

So you unbox the latest Blu-Kindle Nano, breathe in that new-gadget smell, and honor your baby with VIP status in the gear phalanx. But one day the screen goes blank or the power button stops responding or a fine mist of vaporized metal wafts out of it. You rifle through the paperwork you preserved so carefully and locate the warranty—which expired last week.

There is no deeper pain for a gadget freak. This technological Murphy's Law is a cliché, partly because of standard business practices and partly because of psychology. Seriously.

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